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So I’ve been busy!  I have photos going back so far I don’t even remember the niceties of what went into the food!  Could be better this way, though… do a nice skim over with some sexy photoage and then I get to go RUN OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!!!  Because it’s so nice out.  It’s been hard to want to do anything else, besides run around the city on luscious errands (“Ummmm… I need a light bulb.  Let’s go on a 3-hour sun-drenched walk!”).  The markets nearby have been getting more fragrant by the day.  Mangoes are getting delicious again.  I’m listening to some pastoral Vashti Bunyan I picked up at a thrift store today and I’m having a hard time remembering the kind of cold that prompts lentil loaf, such as the one pictured above, but hey, it was needed at the time, and it WAS nostalgically yummy.  I’m not sure about the whole vegan Loaf Craze, I think it might be my second one ever, but this one turned out remarkably well.  It was even gluten-free, adapted from this recipe with some amaranth and rosemary added and some other changes I really don’t remember right now.  And it’s an excuse to eat ketchup, as if I wouldn’t eat it off a spoon, anyway. :)

I usually feel funny posting about salads, since it’s like, well, vegetables.  With oil and salt and things.  But this one was like a bomb of happy went off in my mouth, so here it is.  I think there was berries, daikon, carrot, goji, ume vinegar and mirin involved, maybe some tamari.  Good stuff!!  I think this is when I began to taste spring, a little bit.

And if I wasn’t careful, Satchmo was gonna taste my peanut butter banana oat muffins!!  These are soooo perfect if you don’t want anything even remotely evil in a baked good, and I really didn’t at the time.  It’s just every ingredient listed in the title, plus some baking powder, cinnamon, and raisins for sweetness and that’s it.  I mean, admittedly I added some salt and allspice, but that’s still earnest.  And they made perfect desserts for anything, since I made them mini I could celebrate putting my clothes in the dryer with a muffin if I wanted.  Oh yeah!  And gluten free, too!  Like the loaf, completely subconscious on my part, but neat.  Oh, and recipe is from aTxVegan!

Later I made some split pea soup because it’s probably my favourite, this time heavy on red peppers and with quinoa in it as well, which made it a lot lighter and smoother, and better for warmer times.  With my first sundried tomato pesto on rusks beside it.

And I ought to open Vegan Fire & Spice WAY more often, because it’s just crammed full of launching-pads for creative dinners.  I was way too lazy to cook up brown rice one night, so I riffed off the Persian Orange Rice with Pistachios, using couscous and walnuts instead.  Really good!!!  Totally orangey and warmly spiced and great with zataar-spiced vegetables to mix into it (especially zucchinis!)


CHOCOLATE !!

The best dark chocolate I’ve ever had?  Possibly… quite possibly.  My sister got it almost cheap because it broke into two pieces, thus affected the taste irrevocably and rendering it only fit for ruffians such as us to consume.  Ahhhhh broken chocolate… also calorie-free I hear!  And isn’t that aztec-y wheel printed on the back gorgeous?  The coffee beans in it are roasted near to a meltaway powder, and there’s tons of them, and you should go to the Chocomotive site and order some of this and maybe send some to me, or just definitely pick some up if you ever see it broken in a store near you.

Yay!  I am predictable like this, in that it’s a wrap sandwich, but check it out, this one’s special.  I had the stroke of genius to mix in a whole buttload of fine-chopped scallion into my usual roti and it worked.  SO.  Well.  The tofu mix wasn’t half-bad besides, and maybe I’ve just been craving dijon really madly lately, but this was really good.  If you haven’t tried green beans in a sandwich before, you’re missing out, too!  Lightly steamed, rinsed cold, loaded along with zukes, sweet pickled onions, more dijon and grated carrot = win!  I even remember what I did with this one …
French-ish Tofu Salad 
makes enough for 2 generous sammiches
1/2 lb. firm tofu – herbed is nice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3-4 tbsp mayo
1 tsp coarse ground dijon mustard
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp tarragon
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
– in a bowl, mush up the tofu with your hands (squish squish) until it’s mushy like ricotta.  Mix in the remaining ingredients, adjusting to your own taste, then stuff into breadish things and nom.
Scallion Flatbread 
makes two 10″ breads
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 all-purpose flour
2 tsp hazelnut oil
a good pinch of salt
1/4 cup fine-chopped scallion
6-8 tbsp warm water (it will really depend)
– In a large bowl mix together the flours, oil, salt, and scallion.  Slowly splash in the water and mix until a dough is formed.  Knead it for a minute or two – it should be a wet dough, but if it gets too wet (and it might due to onion moisture), just add a bit more flour and keep going.  When it’s slightly elastic, pop it back into the bowl and cover it with a towel.  Let that sit for a few minutes while you heat up a heavy iron skillet over medium heat.  Take out the dough and divide in two balls, dip them in flour and roll them flat (I usually get a 10″ circle), then cook in the dry skillet about 2 minutes each side, until brown spots appear and it smells toasty.  Instant lunch!

So when Isa says smother, smother I do. There’s not much else I wanted to eat after making the VwaV punkrock chickpea gravy, except anything with loads of this on top. Potatoes are totally good for you, right? Like, they’re vegetable matter! I ate so much potato last week.

Yes, and cabbage. If you think this is stereotypically peasant-fare so far, just wait until you see my third primary vegetable of late. But anyway, cabbage in everything, and when a lunch needs to be made in the time it takes for coffee to brew, a nice apple & clove braised cabbage isn’t bad at all, and can be slurped like noodles actually.

Third in the poor food trinity? Carrots! Good thing I almost consider them dessert. My favorite way to eat them these days is shredded with daikon radish, peppers and sprouts on top, with toasted sesames, tamari and rice vinegar. Sometimes sriracha, and sometimes… wakame seaweed! No, not hydrated, just crunchy and awesome right out of the bag. Better than chips sometimes.

One can see why I took the opportunity to hop home this weekend and eat out of someone else’s fridge for a while? Too bad Ottawa produce is expensive and wilty, ah well. Increases appreciation for the bounty of home, definitely (I complain but it’s really not that bad in Montreal). And at least there are fair trade vegan chocolates everywhere. This Zazubean bar was sweetened with cane juice and had damiana leaf, maca root and horny goat weed, whatever that is. Had to try it. Flirtacious, no? The cherries were the best part and there were tons.

The real reason I went to Ottawa was to hit the annual Fall Fair Flea Market at the First Unitarian church, which is basically a place to find vintage treasures and loads of fabulous high-quality literature for utter pennies. I found Godel, Escher, Bach for $1, and at that I rest my case. No wait! I also found The Man Who Ate Everything for $1, which is a fairly entertaining read. Almost precisely like reading a top notch food blog in book form. Plus I got a zillion classics, artbooks, and philosophy for a smile & a song and a twenty dollar bill, y’all, Liz is in happy book land!!!!!

Perhaps more importantly, I discovered that the church offers sanctuary to a number of people. Most recently a Nepali human rights activist (Shree Kumar Rai on the right), and for ten years a Bangladeshi family who were abused years ago here in Ottawa, and threatened back at home for speaking out about it. So now they both have apartments in the building, and cook amazing amazing food (mostly vegan!!) to pay for expenses and things. And they need people to watch for government officials all the time, which is crazy, but I’m proud of my old church for having the balls to be this immensely awesome. That’s the mediterranean plate they put together for me up there, with a requested cauliflower pakora in the middle, yum.

(More information about UU sanctuary here).

Not to mention I was lucky enough to try Mr. Samsa’s vegetarian wrap and holy crap, it was actually the best deep-fried falafal-ish thing I’ve EVER had. No kidding. The bread was yielding like butter (absolutely homemade), and the innards were spiced like the chorus of your favourite song. I wish I could get these all the time!

They even had sushi! Basic veggie style, but it was real and fresh and delicious as sushi usually is. Go International Cafe! I just wish I could have tried some of the onion bhaji or samosa, which were flying out of the kitchen and looking phenomenal, but next year I guess.

So that was the trip and now I am home, and since I couldn’t for life of me decide what I wanted for dinner tonight I mixed it all together with some kind of gluten-free pasta (rice, I think), fresh basil, chard, garlic, sundried tomatoes and chickpeas I made this morning with balsamic grilled fennel and that was pretty good for a girl who makes noodles maybe ten times a year. Pretty good delicious, that is!

Oh yeah. And 100% potato/cabbage/carrot free, and for that we sing a wee song of yay and happy-chew. :)

It all started… with an ill-conceived attempt at a tofu loafy roulade thingy, with squash inside. I mean, it was pretty damn edible, except that it was u.g.l.y., it didn’t taste a lot like bird, and the wax paper I used to roll it up stuck like glue to the bottom and really did turn the whole first layer into an exercise in chewing crayons.

Much better cookie luck, I made freestyle coffee-chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and P made cakey ginger clouds. But enough of this playing…

Girls gotta bake. Girls gotta prep cook. (okay, I prep-cooked, P went to work)

I made almond-sesame nutty crackers from Extraveganza, with added sesame oil.

Fluffy lemony cupcakes with maple cranberries from More Great Good Desserts, with a lemon-cinnamon drizzle on top.

Caramel popcorn! Spicy-brown sugar pumpkin seeds! Oh, it’s those crackers again!

Pumpkin pie, the quality of which was indeed assured by the Satchmo-cat. I wonder if I make another pumpkin pie if I get a free tattoo or something? And I still keep loving them, making them… hiding the leftovers from everyone. Hee.

Allright, and then P’s folks showed up so we went to the Jean-talon market on the most crispest yet warm of gently-sunned fall days. Picked up some rambunctiously coloured food, asparagus by the bucket, beans, mushrooms, apples (real/perfect/nectar-of-the-heavens-sweet quebec apples), a bunch more of other wonderful things.

They had two among them who couldn’t do gluten, which was a fun challenge, even if I wish I had known sooner… I would have made more that they could eat… but anyway, did you know that brown rice bread is actually delicious and tastes like bread?

Then my posse popped up, with the usual pancake-breakfast request (this is an understanding that I think benefits all of us nicely). Maple syrup was off limits as an ingredient, so I boiled up a quick apple syrup that almost got drank up by my sister, and at least got the pancakes called “the best syrup delivery devices you’ve ever made”. Bro asked for the recipe. (Bro is becoming quite the little burdgeoning foodie – and you better believe I’m supporting that tendency! :P)

And then, and then! After finishing breakfast I was kitchen-maven all day with my sister, then we passed the invisible baton to P and her sister, and between us all we created this glittering harvest spread.

Amidst the hubub and wine-drinking and guitar-jamming and all the fake russian accents, my camera was only found halfway through the meal, hence the half-eaten shot – but I think it still looks great. Clockwise from the bottom is mushroom gravy, nutty crackers, broccoli rabe and carrots with pine nuts and herbs, brown rice pasta salad with peppers and heirloom tomatoes, fresh market beans, hungarian rye stuffing with apples, cranberries and walnuts, cranberry sauce, apple-sage seitan sausages, curry carrot dip, squash stuffed with wild and brown rice mushroom-almond-raisin stuffing, dragonfruit, smoky maple tempeh, and loads of garlicky mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

phew.

Nom. Shall I say nom? And nom, and wow. I think we did okay?

And then there was too much dessert, and oh yeah, did I mention I made cookies too? Oh man… I mean, I know it wasn’t “turkey dinner” or something… but maybe made up for it in sheer tapestry-tasting complexity and connection to what is actually being harvested right now? I mean, I’ve been to thanksgivings where the vegetables are given the saddest passing effort, and aren’t they really the point? Ha ha, anyway… and next year you’re all invited to my tiny tiny place. For some reason it didn’t burst, and it kinda grew to fit us all (18+ at one point??). And you can help us with the leftover apple crisp!!!!

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